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  #41  
Old 24.03.2021, 09:05
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Re: Received inheritance from US - Should I ask for a check or wire transfer?

As OP trying to move dollars received through inheritance from the US to Switzerland, this is what I ended up doing, and it works great!


- Opened a Transferswise account (now re-branded as "Wise"... www.wise.com). This took less than 15 minutes. Had to upload two scanned documents... passport, and a selfie of me holding my passport. That was it.
- Opened a USD and CHF account via their online dashboard (really easy to use) then paid in 20 bucks to each one using my credit card to activate both accounts. You receive account details instantly.

- Asked Wise to provide me a letter of acceptance (that they accept me as a customer to receive USD from a US bank... this was requested by the US bank who held my funds). They emailed it to me promptly.
- A side note: Wise has a US presence (admin office in New York City) which was a prerequisite of the bank that was sending me funds.

- Sent off my claim forms including the Wise account details and letter from Wise to the bank, and within a few days the money was transferred into my Wise USD account.
- Waited until I thought the exchange rate was best, then with a few mouse clicks converted a chunk of it into Francs which instantly appeared in my Wise CHF account.
- At this point you can simply leave the Francs there, and order a debit card from Wise that will be connected with that account. You don't even need a Swiss bank account to access the money.
- I opted not to order the debit card, but have it transferred into my bank account here, all they ask for is the IBAN number.
- It transferred into my bank account in less than 30 minutes!


So I am quite happy about this, and cancelled my original plan to use UBS as they would have given me a worse exchange rate, and what's worse, if I had transferred dollars into a UBS dollar account, they skim 2% off any conversion into Francs.
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  #42  
Old 24.03.2021, 09:42
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Re: Received inheritance from US - Should I ask for a check or wire transfer?

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If you're American and dont need the money here you can open an account in the States.
https://www.americansabroad.org/sdfcu-account/
Slightly off topic, but has your experience with the SDFCU been positive? The last 3 years in Switzerland has been nothing but a battle with my US bank.
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  #43  
Old 24.03.2021, 16:44
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Re: Received inheritance from US - Should I ask for a check or wire transfer?

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Slightly off topic, but has your experience with the SDFCU been positive? The last 3 years in Switzerland has been nothing but a battle with my US bank.
I have been a member of SDFCU since 1992, when their main office was located in the basement of the State Department and I was a new hire. It is my only US bank, into which my federal pension, Social Security and Canadian pension are paid. I could also have my UK State Pension paid to it in dollars but I keep a small UK bank account so it goes there.

SDFCU, like USAA when I joined them at the same time, has grown into a monster and is no longer a members' club. I think it treats federal employees somewhat better than those who join ACA and other unconnected associations just to qualify for an account (my sister did that). I used to have regular contact with them: embassies allowed use of their communications facilities. They also had a special direct line for members abroad. But now like every financial institution by giving bad telephone service they force you to use their Web site. I have used them for money transfer abroad but their rate and fees make them uncompetitive with real foreign exchange brokers. I now use OFX which takes the money directly out of my account (just as my credit card issuers do each month) and about four or five days later the money is in the designated account in the UK. I have no reason to send money to Switzerland as I have rental income and AVS that go into PostFinance.

OFX is Australian owned. They have active branches that I have used in Toronto, London and San Francisco. I chose to join them as a U.S. member with a U.S. address as this avoids potential FBAR issues on money they hold for a few days. I use their iPhone app which remembers my bank and usual payees.

There are other foreign exchange brokers who work the same way. (Transfer)Wise is a more comprehensive financial services firm. You'd have to compare their rates with real foreign exchange market brokers to see if you can get a better rate.

I recall many years ago I changed a substantial sum of money using a major Swiss bank's money desk. I'm sure their margin was greater and their fees very much greater (OFX doesn't charge any fees) but what did I know. At least my banker had the forex desk on the line and I could accept or reject the rate offered.

The usual money-laundering issues are addressed. I made a very large transfer a few years ago when I sold some property. My conveyancing lawyer had to provide a letter showing the source of the funds. Mostly I now transfer a few thousand dollars to help support a daughter in the UK whose child has a disability. Needless to say DLA is insufficient to cover the child's needs.

Their Swiss franc account is with Barclays in London but the did not pose any issues.

BTW one of my daughters (who lives between London and California and like me uses a California address for her US accounts) was refused a SDFCU Visa card -- she was only asking for a $5,000 limit, just to get a credit history. Her existing credit score was 777 based on the fact she is Authorised User on my Chase and SDFCU cards. She's been a SDFCU member since she was born and I was mystified. We rang them and they have an effective appeal procedure and did give her the card, which she rarely uses although it is fee-free and no forex loading. (They asked for a transcript of her UK mortgage and that apparently satisfied them. It satisfies us too as the interest-only 25-year mortgage is keyed to Bank Rate and the current interest rate is 0.39%.)

We use Chase Sapphire Reserve for virtually everything in every country, accumulating points: 400,000 as of now; she has my card on ApplePay, saving the $90 a year for a AU second card. I've tried TWINT a couple of times in Switzerland just to see how it works and was flabbergasted that the Post Office doesn't accept it: you have to use the yellow card and I can never remember the PIN. I think maybe the PostFinance card works contactless, but the postie didn't give me that option.

Putting "foreign exchange broker" into the query line of a search engine gets you several lists of supposedly "best forex dealers". OFX isn't on the ones I looked at; OANDA is, and I used to use their Web site to get historical exchange rates when doing my taxes. The OFX site has that same facility. (Yes I know IRS and HMRC publish "official" annual rates but I ignore those (for FBAR and tax returns) and have never had any pushback.)

Off topic: as for my grandson, the one who gets DLA: he is high-functioning ASD and we compared facilities in Switzerland and the UK before sending him to a French school in London (I have only spoken French with him from birth). Switzerland doesn't seem to offer the facilities the UK does: including paying for a bilingual learning assistant to help him pay attention in school. He has UK and Swiss nationality and is math-oriented. Maybe in ten years he can go to Lausanne. Are Swiss universities free? UK ones were when my kids went, and they got grants too. Another of my daughters, an NHS surgeon, is getting her DPhil at Oxford, with all fees and her salary paid by the NHS. But I think that's something unusual.

Last edited by Caryl; 24.03.2021 at 17:13.
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  #44  
Old 24.03.2021, 17:00
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Re: Received inheritance from US - Should I ask for a check or wire transfer?

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Slightly off topic, but has your experience with the SDFCU been positive? The last 3 years in Switzerland has been nothing but a battle with my US bank.
This is the credit union for US federal employees, including those who are based worldwide (i.e. Dignitaries, embassy workers, military, etc..). That being they are particularly geared to offering service to Americans residing outside of the USA. This includes the possibility to deposit state side issued checks, having a credit card that is accepted at any US embassy and convenient for state side and world travel, wire transfers, ATMs, etc. etc. at relatively low cost. Biggest advantage is no need for a state side address.
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  #45  
Old 24.03.2021, 17:30
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Re: Received inheritance from US - Should I ask for a check or wire transfer?

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This is the credit union for US federal employees, including those who are based worldwide (i.e. Dignitaries, embassy workers, military, etc..). That being they are particularly geared to offering service to Americans residing outside of the USA. This includes the possibility to deposit state side issued checks, having a credit card that is accepted at any US embassy and convenient for state side and world travel, wire transfers, ATMs, etc. etc. at relatively low cost. Biggest advantage is no need for a state side address.
SDFCU charge the VISA 1% loading on out-of-country ATM withdrawals. Some banks and I think Fidelity absorb that, and any other ATM fees.

The connection with American Citizens Abroad is fairly new https://www.americansabroad.org/sdfcu-account/ I understand there's another association one can join that doesn't impose the level of fee that ACA does. But as you say, SDFCU used to be reserved for US State Department, AID and USIA and a few other agency employees and their families. That was then, this is now. They used to be just in the basement of the State Dept., for years they've had a big main office in Alexandria VA.
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  #46  
Old 24.03.2021, 23:31
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Re: Received inheritance from US - Should I ask for a check or wire transfer?

A word of caution with Fintechs like Revolut, Wise, Paypal, et al.

Typically these aren't banks. As such the first 100-250k of your deposits may not be protected as you may expect from what looks like a bank.

Personally I'd transfer any significant amount on within hours, rather than letting it sit for an extended period, and leave currency speculation to the speculators and professional traders.

-------------------

That said, it does look like Wise is indeed a full-fledged UK bank. But unless you're sure your USD payment is protected [I don't think Wise(UK) can hold a US account, whereas Wise(USA) has no bank license], you may want to emphasize cautiousness.
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  #47  
Old 25.03.2021, 09:09
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Re: Received inheritance from US - Should I ask for a check or wire transfer?

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Not correct, it's quite possible to send a scan of a US check for clearance, I do it with Charles Schwab from their App, same with Barclays in the UK.
Charles Schwab has a daily check limit of $100k. If the check is for more than that, it would be impossible to cash via the app.
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Old 25.03.2021, 09:16
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Re: Received inheritance from US - Should I ask for a check or wire transfer?

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Charles Schwab has a daily check limit of $100k. If the check is for more than that, it would be impossible to cash via the app.
Far better to do a wire transfer for $100k, well even $5k come to that.
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Old 25.03.2021, 15:18
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Re: Received inheritance from US - Should I ask for a check or wire transfer?

A good discussion here of the different means of transferring currency and when a firm like OFX is advantageous vs TransferWise etc.
https://transumo.com/ofx-review/
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